Becoming a United States Citizen Through Your Parents

Photo for web article about citizenship to the USA through US Citizen parent.
‘Celebrate Citizenship, Celebrate America’ Naturalization Ceremony at College of DuPage 2015 13” by COD Newsroom is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Suppose one or both of your parents are United States citizens, but you were born outside of the United States. In that case, you will likely need to fill out a Form N-600 application, also known as the Application for Certificate of Citizenship. This application is used to prove an individual’s United States citizenship.

Who Can File an Application for a Certificate of Citizenship?

Parents may file on behalf of their minor children if they seek to obtain citizenship themselves. Additionally, an individual may file an N-600 on behalf of themselves. There are two terms used to describe the types of citizenship:

  • Acquisition: This is for children born outside of the United States to a parent who is a United States citizen (i.e., children born while their parents are traveling abroad).
  • Derivation: This is for children whose parents are green card holders who have obtained United States citizenship.

What Are the Required Documents for an N-600 Form?

When filing an N-600 form, you may be asked to submit the following documents:

  • Passport-style photo
  • Child’s birth certificate or record of birth.
  • Evidence of the parents’ United State citizenship.
  • The parents’ birth certificate.
  • Proof of either parent’s status as a United States national.
  • Proof of residence or physical presence in the United States for the United States citizen parent.
  • The parents’ marriage certificate.
  • Proof of legal custody.
  • Proof of physical custody.
  • Evidence of all legal name changes.

In some cases, you may be required to appear for an in-person interview with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services employee.

How Much Does it Cost to File an N-600?

Filing an N-600 can cost more than $1,000. However, in some circumstances, the fee may be waived.

How Long Does the N-600 Citizenship Process Take?

Becoming a United States citizen can be a long and tough process; the average processing time for an N-600 is approximately 29 months from beginning to end. However, this has been shorter in the past and may get back to closer to a 14-month average.

My U.S. Citizenship Parent Passed Away. Does That Affect Me?

Generally speaking, the death of your United States Citizenship parent will not affect your N-600 application if you automatically acquired citizenship before your parent’s death. However, suppose you did not achieve automatic citizenship before your parent’s death. In that case, you may need to go through Section 322 of the Immigration Nationality Act, which allows for naturalization before age 18.

Automatically Acquired Citizenship

You may automatically acquire United States Citizenship if you were:

  • Born in the United States.
  • Born to a United States Citizen abroad who currently resides in the United States, and you are living with them.
  • Adopted by a United States Citizen who currently resides in the United States, and you are living with them.
  • Born to a United States Citizen living abroad on behalf of the United States Armed Forces.

What Happens if My N-600 Is Denied?

If you receive notification that your N-600 is denied, it is recommended that you contact an experienced immigration attorney immediately to begin working on your appeal. You may file a Form I-290B within 30 days of the denial notification. If you miss the 30-day deadline, your time to appeal has expired, and you may not file another N-600. If you attempt to file another N-600, it will likely be automatically rejected. However, you can file a motion to reopen or reconsider your I-290B, if necessary.

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